Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tom Thumb Weddings

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This photo was taken in our sanctuary and include features a very young Diane Byers as the bride, Paul Holman as the groom, and Marilyn Reeder as a bridesmaid. Diane shared this photo with us. Yes, our church held Tom Thumb Weddings! If you are a contemporary of Diane, Paul and Marilyn, were you in a Tom Thumb Wedding? Organist Gene Babb participated in two!

The Greatest Little Wedding

The Tom Thumb Wedding was inspired by the famous couple Charles Stratton and Lavinia Warren. They appeared at P. T. Barnum's, Barnum's American Museum in New York in the 1800's. Charles Stratton known as General Tom Thumb was deeply in love with Lavinia Warren. It was said they fell in love at first sight. On February 10, 1863 the couple married in New York's Grace Church. It was a lavish affair. The New York Illustrated News wrote, "The History of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, reads so much like some fanciful fairy legend, that it is nearly impossible to regard the affair in any other light." Also written was, "For several weeks past, the approaching nuptials of the little pair have been the one absorbing topic discussed by high and low."

The Tom Thumb Wedding Is Created

One strange legacy of America's Royal Wedding remains to this day. A few years after the wedding, a phenomenon began to sweep the land -- the "Tom Thumb Wedding." Staged primarily at churches and schools, often as fundraisers, children would dress up in wedding finery and be "married" by a "minister." While the popularity of these weddings seemed to peak prior to World War II, there are still Tom Thumb Weddings being performed to this day.